The Last Man to Walk on the Moon Has Died

The Last Man to Walk on the Moon Has Died

What does this mean?

Yes, it seems obvious, but it’s also easy to misunderstand.

These are the men who have walked on the moon. Who died?

  • Apollo 11: Neil Armstrong (NASA Civilian) and Buzz Aldrin (USAF)
  • Apollo 12: Pete Conrad (US Navy) and Alan Bean (US Navy)
  • Apollo 14: Alan Shepard (US Navy) and Edgar Mitchell (US Navy)
  • Apollo 15: David Scott (USAF) and James Irwin (USAF)
  • Apollo 16: John Young (US Navy) and Charles Duke (USAF)
  • Apollo 17: Gene Cernan (US Navy) and Harrison Schmitt (NASA Civilian)

2 Possibilities

  • Of the 12 men who have walked on the moon, either all or some of them have died. When the 12th man dies, we will probably mention in his obituary that “the last man who walked on the moon” has died.
  • On the other hand, if either Gene Cernan or Harrison Schmitt recently died, one of them was, so far at least, the last man to walk on the moon. So we might hear on the news that “Gene Cernan, the last man who walked on the moon, has died.”

Which is, in fact, what I heard this morning. “The last man who walked on the moon has died at 82.”

As Cernan prepared to climb up the lunar ladder for the last time, he paused and spoke these words:

As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just (say) what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.

He and his crewmates returned to Earth on Dec. 19, 1972.


caption: Gene Cernan riding the land rover during the Apollo 17 mission to the moon.

Cernan also traced his daughter Tracy’s initials into the lunar surface before he departed:


Things placed on the surface of the moon stay put. 45 years later, her initials are likely still there. She’s still alive.

The Last Man on the Moon documentary

About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels.
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